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Inaugural Bragg marathon will be a race with 'hooah'

Apr. 28, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Organizers hope to make the All-American Marathon at Fort Bragg, N.C., a rival to the Marine Corps Marathon and lay claim to the title of 'official Army marathon.'
Organizers hope to make the All-American Marathon at Fort Bragg, N.C., a rival to the Marine Corps Marathon and lay claim to the title of 'official Army marathon.' (Getty Images)
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Organizers hope to make the All-American Marathon at Fort Bragg, N.C., a rival to the Marine Corps Marathon and lay claim to the title of 'official Army marathon.' (Getty Images)

Not too late to run

Online registration for the All-American Marathon ended Sunday, but racers still can pick up a race packet and register at several locations this week, up to the day before the May 4 race. Click
for more details.

The path of the inaugural All-American Marathon is paved with “hooah.”

The massive May 4 road race through Fort Bragg, N.C., and surrounding Fayetteville will pass two howitzers, Pope Field, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum and the post’s two “Iron Mike” monuments.

“You’re going right through the heart of all the operational sides of Fort Bragg,” said post spokesman Tom McCollum. “You will see where our soldiers live, the equipment they use and ... runners should see aircraft taking off right over their heads.”

It’s so much “hooah,” organizers envision the race becoming the Army’s official marathon and one to rival the Marine Corps Marathon held every October in Washington, D.C.

There is already an Army Ten-Miler, also held every October in Washington and sponsored by the Army Military District of Washington. There’s also The Army Marathon, held in the spring, sponsored by a nonprofit organization and held outside Fort Hood, Texas.

But Fort Bragg organizers feel they can lay claim to the title “official Army marathon” because their race will be sponsored by the Army and will be run on an Army installation.

“Fort Hood has a marathon — it doesn’t go onto the installation,” McCollum said.

Fort Bragg organizers say this year’s 26.2-mile competition, half-marathon and family-friendly 5-kilometer run are expected to attract more than 3,000 runners from 46 states, 1,000 volunteers and one very special guest: Meb Keflezighi, on the heels of his 2014 Boston Marathon win.

Keflezighi, the first American male to win the Boston Marathon in more than three decades, came to the U.S. as a refugee from Eritrea. He will be the keynote speaker at a pre-race pasta dinner, but he is not running.

The race starts in the city’s Festival Park, travels down the All-American Expressway, through five parks, and through the post. There’s little shade, so volunteers will line the route, passing hydrating drinks to runners.

It all ends with Miss North Carolina and her court handing out medals at the finish line, and a demonstration from the Black Daggers parachute team.

For security, organizers are trying to keep a balance between opening Bragg’s doors and keeping the post secure. To that end, they are adapting its procedures for its annual July 4 celebration, which sees 40,000 visitors — far fewer than the marathon.

To enter the post, the public will have to show a government ID and submit to vehicle searches. Spectators attending the “Finish Fest” will have to undergo a bag check. Runners will not be allowed to compete with bags.

“We are going to make this as secure as possible for our spectators, but we are still trying to open ourselves,” said Rachel Quesada, race director.

Visitors who know they are coming onto the post can register for a 30-day pass that will speed their entry. The process involves a criminal background check.

To become an official Army marathon, Fort Bragg would have to establish an independent entity to run it, and the event would have to be self-sustaining, among other requirements.

“We are operating at a loss this year, but we’re considering it an investment in the future,” Quesada said. “We really want to grow this race into the Army’s marathon and become a nationally recognized race.”

The next race is set for March 22, 2015.

“It’s definitely going to be much bigger than it is this year,” McCollum said.

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